Skunk Information

Skunk Control


Skunk traps are available for rent at the County Office.

Where the skunk lives


The skunk can be found in southern parts of Canada. It likes to live along the edge of the forest, in bushy areas or on the grassy prairies.

Sometimes the skunk will dig its own den, but it may move into another mammal's den. Skunks also live under old buildings or rock piles, or in hollow tree stumps.

The skunk uses dried leaves and grass to line the den. In the winter it may form a ball of grass and place it at the door of the den to keep out the cold wind.
A skunk trap
Appearance
The striped skunk has a black coat with 2 white stripes down the back and 1 white stripe up the forehead. The stripes are a warning to other animals to stay away.

It is the size of a house cat. A skunk's eyes and ears are small. It can not see well but its sense of hearing is good.

The skunk has strong front legs and sharp claws that are good for digging a den.
A group of skunks by a den

Food


During the day, a skunk sleeps. Skunks hunts at night, walking slowly along, catching insects and looking for small fruit. It sniffs out meadow mice, gophers, moles, squirrels and chipmunks.


Protection


The skunk has musk glands and can shoot a liquid that has an awful odor. First, it gives a warning when something approaches. It stiffens its legs, stamps the ground with its feet, snaps its teeth, and its hairs stand up. Then the skunk swings its rear end around, lifts its tail up out of the way and shoots. Out comes a terrible-smelling yellow mist. The spray can go as far as 4 meters.

Enemies


When a badger, coyote, bobcat, fox, eagle or large owl is hungry enough, it will attack the skunk.


Babies


The female may have 4 to 8 babies (kits) in late April or early May. The babies are skinny, blind, hairless and without teeth. In 3 weeks their eyes are open. In 6 weeks their fur is fully grown. In 2 months they are no longer fed the mother's milk. The mother skunk takes them out to hunt with her at night.

Adaptation


In the fall the skunk eats a lot and grows a thick coat. The mothers and kits move into large dens and snuggle together to keep warm. During the winter the skunk sleeps and lives off of the stored body fat. It does not hibernate. It wakes up often and may leave the den to search for small animals, berries or seeds to eat.

Bites


It is rare for a healthy skunk to bite a human. While a domesticated skunk with its scent glands removed may defend itself by biting, there are few recorded incidents. The most prevalent cause of skunks biting humans is the rabies virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recorded 1,494 cases of rabies in skunks in the United States for the year 2006 - about 21.5% of reported cases in all species. Skunks trail raccoons as vectors of rabies, although this varies regionally (raccoons dominate along the Atlantic coast and eastern Gulf of Mexico, skunks throughout the Midwest and down to the western Gulf, and in California).
Domestication
Mephitis mephitis, the striped skunk species, is the most social skunk and the 1 most commonly domesticated. When a skunk is kept as a pet, its scent glands are often surgically removed.

Other Interesting Facts
  • A young skunk makes a good pet if the musk glands are removed.
  • The terrible-smelling liquid is called mercaptan.
  • The skunk's spray burns the eyes and the nose.
  • The skunk makes enough liquid for 5 sprays a week.
  • It helps the farmer by eating insects and rodents that destroy crops.
A baby skunk in a hand